EU Cyber Resilience Act | Government launches consultation on UK mandatory water efficiency labelling | Commission adopts proposals on ecodesign and ecolabelling of mobile phones and tablets

EU Cyber Resilience Act

On 15 September, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a new Cyber Resilience Act.

The Act will introduce cyber security requirements for products with digital elements which aims to protect consumers and businesses from products with inadequate security features. The Act will require manufacturers to ensure that the cyber security of their products is in conformity with the requirements set out in it, from the design and development phase, and throughout the whole life cycle of the product. It also introduces more transparency, by requiring manufacturers to be transparent on cyber security aspects that need to be known to consumers. It applies to all products that are connected either directly or indirectly to another device or network, with some exceptions such as medical devices, aviation or cars.

The draft Act will now be examined by both the European Parliament and the Council, and once adopted, economic operators and Member States will have two years to adapt to the new requirements.

The Q&A on the EU Cyber Resilience Act can also be found here.

Government launches consultation on UK mandatory water efficiency labelling

On 2 September, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has published a consultation on proposals to introduce mandatory water efficiency labelling on water-using products in the UK.

The proposals aim to introduce a separate water label from the existing energy label for display on toilets, urinals, kitchen sink taps, bathroom basin taps, non-electric shower outlet devices and shower assembly solutions, dishwashers, washing machines and combination washer/dryers. This new label will encourage consumers to purchase more water-efficient products and help customers manage their water and energy bills. Water companies will also be required to set out how they can help promote the label and use it as part of incentive or rebate schemes.

Defra is considering making it a banded (tiered) labelling programme that allows products to be labelled with various rated levels of water consumption, similar to the energy efficiency label.

The water labelling scheme and drafting of the regulations is likely to be concluded later in 2023 and an implementation period will be allowed to enable the transition to the new requirements. Defra estimates that the changes will come into force by early 2025.

Commission adopts proposals on ecodesign and ecolabelling of mobile phones and tablets

On 31 August, the European Commission called for views on two draft regulations on energy labelling and ecodesign requirements for smartphones and slate tablets. This follows on from public consultations on the energy labelling and ecodesign requirements of such products which ran between May and August 2021.

The aim of the draft delegated regulation on energy labelling is to introduce labelling requirements that support ecodesign by giving consumers better information regarding product sustainability. The draft energy labelling regulation introduces an energy label (for smartphones and slate tablets) that contains information on the energy efficiency of the device as well as information on material efficiency aspects.

There are three specific objectives of the draft regulation:

  • facilitating repair and increasing durability of these products and key components (for example, battery and display);
  • fostering product designs aimed at achieving cost-efficient material and energy savings; and
  • helping consumers make an informed and sustainable choice at the point of sale.

The regulation will apply 18 months after the entry into force, apart from Article 3(1) which will apply 14 months after the entry into force.

The draft regulation introducing ecodesign requirements for mobile phones, cordless phones and slate tablets seeks to ensure that mobile phones and tablets are designed to be energy efficient and durable, consumers can easily repair, upgrade and maintain them, and the devices can be reused and recycled.

The regulation will apply 12 months from the date of entry into force.

See the consultation.

The feedback period for both draft regulations closed on 28 September 2022. Commission adoption of the proposals is planned for the fourth quarter of 2022.

OPSS Product Regulation Strategy 2022-2025

The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) has published its regulation strategy for 2022 to 2025, Delivering protection and confidence in a strong, green economy. Within this, the OPSS has highlighted a number of areas.

The government is reviewing, as well as a product safety review, other aspects of product regulation. For example, the Energy-Related Products Policy Framework, which seeks to ensure products use less energy, resources, and materials, and therefore contribute to the UK’s transition to net zero.

With regard to online marketplaces, the government intends to clarify roles and responsibilities for online sales to provide consistency with the requirements and protections associated with traditional retail trade.

On net zero, the government is working to enable businesses and consumers to play their part in achieving net zero, such as facilitating the innovation of eco-products and technologies.

Section three of the strategy sets out the delivery priorities which, among others, include:

  • Challenging major online marketplaces to play their part in protecting UK consumers from unsafe goods.
  • Developing its understanding of the opportunities and risks stemming from emerging technology and innovation.
  • Targeting its regulatory activity through timely interventions and a new risk methodology.
  • Helping to influence and develop a modern and innovative standards system.
  • Improving the product safety framework by consolidating and simplifying product safety legislation, this includes adopting a proportionate approach centred around risk, hazard and transparency.

Equity in medical devices: independent review call for evidence

On 11 August, the Department of Health and Social Care launched a call for evidence seeking views on the design, development, evaluation and use of medical devices to inform the "Equity in medical devices: independent review". The aim of this is to discover if and how medical devices and technologies may be exacerbating inequalities in healthcare.

The review will cover different types of medical devices, including devices enabled by artificial intelligence (AI) used in diagnosing illness and determining therapy pathways, as well as risk-scoring systems using genomics to make decisions about personalised medicine. The government will use the outcome of the call for evidence to consider in what ways existing or future regulations could successfully address any biases in medical devices that arise at any stage of their design, development, evaluation, implementation and use.

The consultation closes on 6 October 2022.

European standards on the safety of children’s products (excluding toys)

On 5 August, the European Commission launched a public consultation on its draft decision on the safety requirements to be met by European standards for certain children's products and related products pursuant to Directive 2001/95/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council. The Commission notes that the current standards for childcare articles, other than toys, are based on a 1997 mandate that is outdated, and the standards require updating.

The Commission has set out at paragraph 7 of its decision that the new safety requirements should reflect new scientific and technical knowledge and market evolution. They should also use a hazard-based approach, which would allow a comprehensive assessment of risks to which children can be exposed while using products intended for them.

The feedback period closed on 2 September 2022.

Regulation adopted on safety of recycled plastic materials in food packaging

The European Commission has, on 15 September, adopted a regulation on recycled plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with foods.

The regulation outlines rules to ensure that recycled plastic can be used in food packaging in the EU. The aim on this is to improve the sustainability of the food system and help the EU to achieve its goals under the circular economy action plan. Among other things, the regulation will permit a number of recycling processes for manufacturing safe recycled plastic materials for use in food packaging, as well as also creating ways in which to recycle plastics that cannot currently be recycled into food packaging. The Q&A on the regulation can be found here.

New guidance for placing goods on UK market

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) published new guidance pages, on 10 August, on placing manufactured goods on the UK market.

BEIS has published guidance on UKCA marking: roles and responsibilities, which explains some of the obligations and responsibilities of the economic operators looking to comply with the new UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) marking in England, Wales and Scotland. This includes how to make sure that products are properly checked for conformity and technical documents are managed correctly, and specific obligations and responsibilities for compliance.

Guidance has also been published on UKCA marking: conformity assessment and documentation which sets out the legislative areas where self-declaration of conformity for UKCA marking is permitted. It provides information on the government's plans to introduce legislation to allow conformity assessment activities undertaken by EU-recognised Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs), for CE certification before 31 December 2022, to be used by manufacturers to declare existing product types as compliant with UKCA requirements.

European Parliament adopts position on regulation of deforestation free products

Please see ESG

Commission proposes regulation prohibiting products produced using forced labour

Please see Modern Slavery.